Thursday, July 17, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 - MARATHON DAY, Part 5

Part IV can be read HERE.

We turned left back onto Osceloa and awaited our meetup with Laura.  Laura never disappoints!  She had signs posted a good 100 yards before her post with her thingimajig.  We got there with tons of smiles waiting for us!  She was handing out oranges, which tasted absolutely amazing.  She let us know that Tom Troost had just left here and was only about 3 or 4 minutes ahead of us.  We told her that the Nerd Herd would probably be coming up in the next 10 minutes, too.
We gave hugs and said our goodbyes, but then I heard a “MUSH!!!” behind me.  Laura raced to catch up with me for a selfie! 

After the pic came Mile 21 (16:14 and 162)…the oranges helped, plus, I had a new goal…to get us to catch Troost to try to finish with him!  First, though, we had to do battle with the Ramp-from-Hell onto World Drive.  It has a significant uphill portion in order to clear the main entrance to DHS before dropping down to World Drive.  Sarge, from the Green Army Men, was placed there, and I contemplated dropping for 10 push-ups; however, I feared not being able (or having any desire) to get back up to finish the race.  I gave my best salute as I went by, though.

After much cussing and gnashing of teeth, we made onto World Drive, where RunDisney had another music selection near the Mile 22 marker (17:04 and 162).  This one was the online poll, where we could vote for which song would be played.  The options were Let it Go, Don’t Stop Believin’, and Firework.  My vote was for Let it Go, but the votes were so close that RunDisney decided to play all 3.  I got to hear two of the songs…

Guess which one I didn’t get to hear.

Ellie was nearing “back teeth are floating” stage, so we stopped near the medical tent on the off-ramp from World Drive to Buena Vista.  There were a couple of porta-potties there, and Ellie hopped in line.  The line was only 3-deep, but we think that people fell asleep in there, because the line crawled. The wait helped me, though, because I was able to drop my heart rate to below 150 for the first time since Mile 15.

As we passed the medical tent near the on-ramp to Buena Vista Drive, I started taking inventory of where we were and what we had to do yet.  We had Hollywood Studios, and we had Epcot.  We knew there would be crowds in both, and we knew that we’d have 2 cheering squads near Yacht & Beach as well as by the Mexico Pavilion (the Nerds and their margaritas…).  We had a chocolate stop by Tower of Terror soon.  I was nearly out of Gatorade and was going to hold off on PowerAde as long as possible (to avoid any chance of a gout flare-up post-race).  I was definitely tired, but, thus far, my body was holding up.

While waiting for Ellie, I paused to check Facebook for more of Sheri’s inspirational message.  I noticed that Ellie had posted something on my wall.

It simply said: 18 I heart Chris Mushrush

That one got me.

Little did she know that the tables were about to turn.

Darrell was still with us, and, after Ellie made her way back to us, we all started motoring up the onramp towards DHS.  Right as we made the right turn to enter Studios backstage, my left calf gave me a little indication that it didn’t really appreciate all that I was asking it to do…it gave me sort of a “mini-cramp”.  It was about 15 seconds into our 30 second run, and we all shut it down and skipped a run interval.  A couple of minutes later, I tested out the leg on another run interval, and it seemed to hold.  Ellie asked if she should drop out at the Studios, and told her that we could almost moon-walk it the rest of the way…besides, once we made it past the Studios parking lot, we were pretty much home free as they likely wouldn’t sweep us past that point.

We entered backstage and started praying for a breeze to help propel us to the next stop…I also said a silent prayer that they had not yet run out of chocolate!  After 2 more mini-cramps in my leg, we made it to the water stop, where I finally broke down and grabbed some PowerAde to replenish my empty water bottle (I also topped off my water in my belt).  I nearly kissed the kids handing out the mini chocolate bars.  I got 3 of them and immediately wolfed down the first with water.  The second one soon followed…then I was full.

Seriously?  Free candy bars, and I can’t even eat them??!!!  I asked around if anyone wanted my last one, but nobody around me bit (rim shot), so I grudgingly threw away the last one before it started melting. 
Mile 23 came and went (19:40…bathroom break added the time…average hr was a little lower at 158), and I realized that we only had about 5K to go.  About 5 minutes after eating her chocolate, Ellie…well…how do I put this…let’s just say that I think her blood sugar levels were a little low just before taking in the chocolate.  She got this HUGE surge of energy and looked like the Ellie from Mile 3!!  

At the exact same time, my right calf decided that it was also being neglected and started micro-cramping too.  We took a left and entered the air-conditioned, enclosed, perfect, costuming area from the Backlot Tour.  Ellie was on a mission now, and she was starting to pull away…I told her to keep going…I’d catch up after I walked the span of the air conditioning.  Darrell positioned himself between Ellie and me to keep tabs on both of us.
I was starting to get a little mad at my legs…yeah, even I think it sounds stupid.  I was starting to slow down the other 2, and told them to go ahead and finish…I’ll be able to complete it.

The tables had turned that quickly.

Both Ellie and Darrell said they’d pick me up and haul me over the finish line if they needed to.   I buckled down and started focusing on giving them both the RUN and WALK intervals.  Ellie was about 25 yards ahead of me as we worked our way through Studios.  As we were about to take a left off of the Streets of America onto Commissary Lane, I started about 5 seconds before the run to try to close the difference a little.  When the “official” time to start running came, I hollered out a “RUN!”, not realizing that the Streets of America facades made for a really good echo chamber.

Everyone around me jumped and wondered what was up with me.

I think I had 4 or 5 spectators in the park start running.

Ellie could definitely hear it – she turned back to see if I had donned a drill sergeant’s uniform from the costuming area earlier.

After hearing how loud that one was, I started laughing and apologized to those around me whose heart rates jumped about 20 beats per minute.  

Ellie was getting stronger by the minute and was running GREAT as we made it to Hollywood Boulevard.

That blue blur at the beginning of the video was Ellie streaking by.

Darrell mentioned that his wife was near the entrance to Studios.  I asked him what her name was and told him I’d make sure she knew we all knew her.  Ellie slowed down to wait for us as we approached the entrance.  We passed through, and, as we weaved to the Boardwalk Pathway, Kerri (Darrell’s wife) appeared.  We let out this huge barrage of KERRRRRIIIIII!!!!!!  WE LOOOOVVVE YYOOU!!!!!!!!!  Embarrassed but happy to see her husband, they talked for a quick minute, and she gave Darrell a shirt to hold up at the finish line (the “I DID IT” one).
I started ahead of the others a bit because I knew I’d be slowing them down in no time at all.  Ellie ran next to me again for a while, and, as we passed the last point where the busses could be at to sweep us, I told Ellie that there’s no sweeping us now.

That got all three of us a small surge of energy.  The only real problem that my surge was smaller than the other’s.  The course REALLY narrowed at this point, and we more or less had to go single-file as we worked our way towards the Boardwalk Resort.  Despite the time, there were still a LOT of people out cheering on the walkway, which really helped.  Many items of food, as well as a couple of beers, were offered our way.  We made to the Mile 24 marker (16:38 and 161).  Our next source of inspiration was just across the bridge by the Swolphin…Deb was going to be there with a bunch of people cheering.  Ellie saw them and kicked into 4th gear.  I told Darrell that Deb was going to be at this one and that we’d probably stop for a second.

As Darrell and I made it to the top of the Swolphin bridge, I spotted Team AllCheers, who were all starting to do the MUUUSSSHHHH MUSHMUSHMUSHMUSH! Chant.  I took the downhill part of the bridge quickly and immediately cramped up again, so I glided into Team AllCheers rather gingerly.

  I gave Deb a quick but huge hug.  Team Member Kim Scharoff held up a Gatorade and asked if I wanted it.  I just stared at her for a second in bewilderment…how the heck did she know??!!  I talked about carrying Gatorade to her in passing because of the gout issues, and she went out and bought one for me to have for the finish.  I nearly kissed her for that…thanks, Kim!!!!

Before we left, I inquired about how far ahead Tom was, and they mentioned that he was about 5 minutes ahead but that Molly and the girls were camped out by the International Gateway (and then quietly…and they had a beer for us).  Depending on how much he chatted, we might be able to catch him.  We said our goodbyes and threw the run/walk interval out the window.  We decided to stay together and run as long as the three of us could until we had to walk…usually 15-20 seconds.  We saw another small Team AllCheers contingency between Deb’s crew and the Troost clan.

Then we saw Molly and (I think) Maggie up ahead. We had just finished a run portion and walked in (well, Ellie soared in…still on the chocolate high). 

Molly’s smile was just awesome, and, before I could even say “HI!”, she pointed to the cooler with our selection.  I initially declined (with the AllEars logo on my shirt, I didn’t really want to be seen with a beer can in my hand), but Molly said they had Red Solo cups for us to take.  As expected, I started singing the song.  I looked at Ellie, who didn’t want a full one, so we popped open a Mich Ultra and poured it into 2 cups.  I handed one to Ellie, and we toasted the Troost family for their awesomeness.

Photo Courtesy of the Troost Clan!

That was seriously the best-tasting beer I have ever had in my entire life.  I immediately regretted having only half of one.  Tom was only about 2-3 minutes ahead of us and feeling good…it was going to be close on whether we would be able to catch him or not.
We parted ways and approached the hill for the International Gateway.  The beer was gone within about 45 seconds of leaving them, and I was feeling good…no…GREAT!  I needed the carbs, and the beer seemingly supplied it instantly.  We entered that backstage area of Epcot and approached the final water stop – the volunteers made a big deal about it being the final stop…both for the fact that we were almost finished and for the fact that this was the last opportunity to get water/Powerade.  I passed on the water and wanted to get to the U.K. gate as soon as possible…I remember when I cheered at this spot 2 years ago and saw how big the smiles were as the runners entered the final park of the marathon.
The carbs in the beer apparently were used up, and I hit the wall in the span of about 25 seconds…about 25 seconds after we passed the last water stop.


We made a right-hand turn, and we caught our first glimpse of on-stage Epcot.  The torches were burning, and the music was blaring!  YES…we’re here!!!!!   Right as we entered the U.K. Pavilion, we saw a photographer clicking away.  Ellie and I had the same idea at the same time and got this pic:

(best pic of the marathon!!!)

After the pic, I turned to Ellie and said, (paraphrasing to keep this G-rated), “Ellie, we’re in Epcot!”

She repeated the exact (paraphrased) words back to me.
It was right at this time that I realized we were going to finish it.  I had to fight a couple of allergies that suddenly came up as I heard the supporters cheering and the inspirational music in the background.  Darrell took a moment to read a note that his niece wrote to him, and he was fighting back tears.  He showed it to us, and more allergies just about got to me.  I looked around for the WDW Radio Cheering Team (Lou, Deanna, Beci, and many of the Team often set up a cheering section in the U.K., too), but I wasn’t looking at the right place and missed them.  The U.K. was behind us, and mile 25 appeared on (what I never realized until just then was) a hill on the way to France. Mile 25 had us at 17:01 and 165 on the average heart rate.   Not a bad pace, considering we stopped a couple of times for Team AllCheers. 

The hill to France (again, I don’t ever remember it being there until now…I think they put it in for the race) nearly did me in, and I got sluggish heading up the bridge.  As we started the trek, down, I heard a voice calling out for Ellie and me – Team AllEars runner Rhonda Speer was out cheering for us on the France side of the bridge.  She was at the perfect place, and I really needed that.  I don’t think she realized it, but her presence gave me an absolutely huge boost…thanks, Rhonda! 

I realized that the energy was completely gone, despite another loading of energy beans and Gatorade.  I again told Ellie and Darrell to finish…I wouldn’t be too far behind.  Darrell again threatened to toss me over his shoulder across the finish line in order for us to complete it together.  I laughed and then entered a stage where I started reflecting.  I took in the music, but I also took a few minutes to think about the journey to get to this point.  My mind started going to the reason I joined the Team, and I got to thinking about those who we’re raising money for.  I looked at those around me doing the same thing and wondered about their stories.  That got me from Morocco to Japan.

Again out of energy, I trudged past the American Pavilion to the support of many people taking time from their vacation to cheer us on.  I thanked them and tried a couple more 10-15 second run intervals.  Ellie was checking up on me every few minutes, and Darrell maintained a distance between the three of us.  I really focused on the music being played for what most WDW marathoners call the “victory lap” around World Showcase Lagoon.  I looked over to Spaceship Earth and then just looked ahead.

What the…

I snapped out of my trance and looked over to my right.  Jay Griffith had been waiting in the Italy Pavilion for me to make it past.  I gave him a big smile and a, “Thanks, Jay!” as I gave a thumbs-up sign.

There it was…the next surge.

That carried me to the Outpost.

Now it became a Country-to-Country battle.  Every time I tried to start a run interval, my calf would cramp up within 5-10 seconds, and I was starting to get into my head and beating myself up.  I hobbled past China and looked for a cast member from Norway to try to lift my spirits.   I started doing the “You are not de virst to pass this vay…nor vill you be the last” phrase as my mantra as I passed Akershus and Maelstrom.  Darrell slowed up to make sure I was still alive

As I transitioned over to the last country, I knew some of the Nerd Herd would be there, and, after having been standing there for a few hours with margaritas nearby, I knew it was going to be interesting.  Sure enough, when one of them saw me, the “MUUUUUUUSSSSHHHHHH!!!” chant began again.

Photo Courtesy of Erinn Casazza

Have I ever mentioned that I Love the Nerd Herd?

That got me to near the bridge and on my way to Future World.  Right about here was when my Garmin told me that I had done 26.2 miles…we definitely did some weaving around.  Mile 26 split was slower (talked to Rhonda, Jay, Nerd Herd, plus walked a ton…18:07 pace and 160 heart rate).  As I walked, I took a moment to look up at Spaceship Earth and take in the setting…yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

Julia Mascardo had just exited the Electric Umbrella as I passed.  She acted quickly and grabbed her camera:

 Thanks, Julia!!!

Ellie was still going strong about 10-15 yards ahead of us.  The crowds of those cheering was getting thicker, which again provided another boost.  We took the right turn just before Spaceship earth for the final quarter mile.

We passed the Mile 26 marker, and we were off-stage a minute later.  I could feel the smile that had been forming on my face becoming more permanently affixed as I knew what was coming up around one of the upcoming turns, and I could start to hear them.

I have always been a fan of live Gospel music, but WOW!!!!!  I applauded them at the end of the song and then turned to Darrell and Ellie, as we now only had a right-hand turn and then the final chute to the finish.
The crowds thinned just a bit at the turn, but then we all saw it…the Finish Line!!!  

We all agreed to have Ellie in the middle as we crossed the finish line.  We all went to a walk so we could cross the line at a run.  We crossed the ID strip, and I finally got to hear my name over the P.A. system as Carissa read the name that popped up on her screen. 


About 100 yards before the finish, we saw Rudy Novotny jumping off the Announcer’s stage.  He immediately saw the Team AllEars logo at the same time we saw him, and Ellie and I hollered to him just as he hollered to us.

Yeah, I’m about to finish my first marathon, but meeting Rudy is also on my bucket list!

We stopped for a brief moment and talked to him…he was curious if we heard this year’s total for TAE, and we let him know that we broke $100,000, with over $330K for the total over our 5 years.
Rudy gave us a hug for that.

He let us go, and the three of us turned back to the finish line…around 75 yards out. 

The three of us looked at each other…

…clasped hands…


 (it’s my first marathon finish…deal with it!)

(I love how you can see Rudy in the background of that last picture - as well as in the video - cheering on the runners for those last few yards)


26.2 miles. (26.73 miles, according to the Garmin)